Delta's (self-confessed smoker) Joann Hamelin had a letter published in the Friday, Sept. 14 Vancouver Sun entitled, "There are worse habits than smoking.", regarding Vancouver's plan to ban smoking on patios, 6 meters from entranceways, etc.

According to Hamelin, vehicle emissions and obesity are "worse" (she conveniently neglects to provide any facts/statistics to back up her claim)...and all of us "anti-smoking activists" are hypocrites.

Here's her letter:

I am upset about the smoking ban on outdoor patios that Vancouver city council is expected to pass. Obviously, I am a smoker who feels that I too have rights. It is ironic that these anti-smoking activists say they are so worried about the quality of their health as they drive through such places as McDonald's. The obesity rates and problems caused by fast-foods are an enormous burden on our medical system. Should we tax and penalize people who poison their bodies with high-fat foods?

Any one vehicle emits more deadly emissions into the air than one cigarette does. However, I trust that all of these anti-smoking activists are doing their part to protect the air quality they are so concerned about by not driving a vehicle and taking public transit. Or are they all a bunch of hypocrites?

And here's my response (e-mailed Sept. 14) which, to the best of my knowledge, has not seen the light of day:

If I had a penny for every time I've been called a hypocrite, I'd be a billionaire!

Well, I have news for Joann Hamelin ("There are worse habits than smoking", Sep 14 letters): Whether any of us care to admit it or not, we're ALL hypocrites to one extent or another. Certainly everyone I know wants to live a reasonably long and healthy life, yet we all do various and sundry unhealthy/unsafe things.

Like every other addict and/or well-paid puppet of the nicotine cartel (formerly known as the tobacco industry), Hamelin is quick to dismiss her problem... then she launches into the typical name-calling, changing the subject and pointing the finger elsewhere; obesity rates, pollution from vehicles, etc.

There's no question about it: Both obesity and vehicle pollution are huge problems but, whether we like it or not, both food and transportation are essential to life. Could we eat healthier... and drive less polluting vehicles? Absolutely! And, in fact, there are many groups and agencies out there -- both governmental and NGOs -- educating, encouraging and, to some extent, regulating all of us to do those things.

Is there anything essential about tobacco? I don't think so.

I'll stop fighting the good anti-tobacco fight the day Joann Hamelin and her ilk get off their lazy asses and actually do something about the problems (obesity, pollution, etc.) that they think are so much worse than tobacco.

In the meantime, last time I checked, tobacco was still killing 5 million people every year, globally (and that number is actually rising, as the nicotine cartel continues to rape and pillage, virtually unfettered, in Third World countries); that's more deaths, worldwide, EVERY 6 HOURS than were killed in all of the 9/11 attacks! Sort of makes you wonder who the real terrorists are, doesn't it?

Over the next few days, I looked for my letter in the Sun. No sign of it. But on Sunday, Sept. 16, just two days after Hamelin was published in the Sun, a slight variation of her letter appeared in The Province, under the headline, "Evils worse than smoking."

Obviously, it's impossible to check every Vancouver Sun and Province newspaper, but I generally read the letters to the editor in both papers... and I have NEVER seen such a duplication.

As you probably know, both papers are part of Pacific News Group, share the same building and, in fact, share the same phone number! I don't know exactly how it's done, but I think it's safe to assume that the editors at both paper compare notes and, when it comes to letters to the editor that are going to be published, they decide to publish it in one paper or the other, but NOT BOTH!

If the letter was some sort of a literary masterpiece, I could see the editors of both papers making an exception to the 'one or the other but not both' rule, but it's crap! I'm not saying that because Hamelin is a smoker... nor because she's on the opposite side of the issue from me; I'm simply saying "it's crap" because her position/argument is extremely weak, she doesn't back up her assertions with any factual information, she comes across as a whiner who can't smoke anywhere and everywhere she damn well pleases and, last but not least, I really don't think anyone who read her letter is going to say, "Whoa! Stop the presses! Ms. Hamelin has brought some vital new information to light...and council really should reconsider the ban!"

Bottom line: I'm adding Joann Hamelin to the rapidly-growing list of nicotine cartel puppets who I'm challenging to a debate. Thus far, the list includes former Deputy Premier Christy Clark, bar and pub association big shot Dave "Tobacco" Crown, celebrity manager and big mouth Bruce Allen, Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers' Council president Dave Laundy and Canada's best-known tobacco whore, Nancy Daigneault, president, so-called "smokers' rights" group which has been funded (by the Canadian tobacco industry) to the tune of at least $2.5 million... that we know about!

As always, I expect the silence will continue to be deafening!